Polyurethane on Top of New Engineered Wood Floor

Discussion in 'Hardwood and Laminates Q&A' started by Pvfloor, Aug 26, 2016.

  1. Pvfloor

    Pvfloor Member


    I love solid wood floors but I love radiant in-floor heat more. So, I lost my wood floors when this house was built in 2001-2002.

    We just removed the cheap laminate floor installed in 2002 and put down a Lumber Liquidators engineered floor.

    I understand completely the quality of a big box store product, the lack of warranty, etc.

    I an curious, however, if it is possible to put a coat of polyurethane on top of the brand new engineered floor prior to it being walked on much, in order to make it more durable and refinishable.

    The floor is installed on the 2nd floor.
    There are two rooms it us installed in:
    1) new addition: It is installed over a plywood subfloor, over a living space and a garage
    2) master bedroom: over gypcrete and also over plywood subfloor

    Floor was acclimated for 7 days inside prior to installation.

    My question is, is it possible to put a coat of polyurethane on top of the brand new engineered floor prior to it being walked on much, in order to make it more durable and refinishable?

  2. Steve Olson

    Steve Olson Hardwood/Laminate Guru Charter Member Senior Member

    Are you asking if YOU can apply a coat of finish, without doing any surface prep to the new floor?

    Years ago, early 90's, at a Kahrs seminar, they showed us how to apply a coat of their finish over the top of a newly installed floor, with no screening or sanding, but I never had the guts to try it. Finish needs something to adhere to, provided by screening to rough up the surface, or by using a system that provides a primer to help the finish bond. But, I haven't refinished a floor in over a decade, so I'm slightly out of the loop, so to speak.

    I think its a bad idea, nothing you can apply can match a factory finish for hardness, and durability. You could hire a reputable sand and finish hardwood guy to apply one though.

    I think a better idea would be to take your shoes off to walk on the new hardwood, use the proper cleaners to maintain it, and keep all pets off of it.
  3. Pvfloor

    Pvfloor Member

    Ok, that is what I believed the answer was so thanks for confirming that.

    So, a follow-on question. Is there an engineered floor, for use over radiant in-floor heat, that can be screened and recoated? Home Depot, Lowes, Lumber Liquidators, etc do not have anything in engineered wood flooring that can be screened and recoated. In fact, I often get looked at like I an nuts. Also, the flooring stores are the same here in Albuquerque and the few flooring professionals all say the same thing.....no. my web searches have been unsuccessful. So, is this type of floor non existent?
  4. Chris Mha

    Chris Mha Charter Member Senior Member

    I don't understand why you would want to recoat a brand new floor? Anything can be screened and recorded.
  5. Mike Antonetti

    Mike Antonetti I Support TFP Senior Member

    Here's NWFA's recommendations, though their 2007. And then it is based on manufacturers recommendations, a quality engineered hardwood should will obviously be more stable, also quality of hearing system and its ability to limit maximum temperature.

  6. Pvfloor

    Pvfloor Member

    Why recoat a new floor? I did not look at it as recoating, as it is brand new and does not need recoating. I looked at it as adding an additional layer of protection.

    You are the 1st person ever to tell me anything can be screened and recoated.

    Why not buy a super high quality floor in the 1st place? I have not been able to find a engineered floor that can be screened and recoated so why spend the higher cost to have the same result as a lower cost floor, which is probably replacing it within 10-15 years? Hence, my thought of immediately putting an additional layer of protection on it ASAP so a professional can screen and recoat the floor in the future. In a sense I am making the product I want that I have not been able to find: a screenable and recoatable wood floor that can be used over in-floor radiant heat pipes.
    Last edited: Aug 26, 2016
  7. Pvfloor

    Pvfloor Member

    I scanned the installation guidelines quickly. Solid wood can be installed over radiant in-floor heat but it is best to use an outside thermostat. My next house will have that type of system. Also, it appears solid wood floor is best over radiant floors only when there is another layer of plywood between it and the radiant heat in order to put space between the actual heated concrete and wood flooring. It still sounds to me engineered flooring is best over radiant heat. Thanks for the info.

    The following installation and subfloor systems can be used successfully over radiant heat:
    1. Glue-down, engineered or solid parquet.
    2. Floating engineered.
    3. Direct-nail, solid wood or engineered wood flooring to wood subfloor.
    4. Solid T&G floor direct-nailed to sleepers.
    5. Single layer of plywood on sleepers.
    6. Double plywood floating subfloor.
    7. Loose-lay single layer of ¾” plywood cut in 16” planks staggered with ½” gap between, laid perpendicular to
    wood direction.
  8. kwfloors

    kwfloors Fuzz on the brain Charter Member I Support TFP Senior Member

  9. Pvfloor

    Pvfloor Member


    Kahrs Johan Oak is nice and would work but at approximately $9 per sq ft it is out of our price range.

    An engineered wood floor that can be screened and recoated multiple times at a price range of about $3 - $4 would be a nice seller, IMHO
  10. Steve Olson

    Steve Olson Hardwood/Laminate Guru Charter Member Senior Member

    I don't understand where you're geting the information that an engineered floor cannot be screened and re coated? Some engineered wood floors have a veneer so thin, that sanding the floor isn't a good idea, but screening a floor is nothing more then roughing up the surface a bit to give the new finish something to bond to.

    A quality sawn face engineered floor could be sanded, by a top notch pro, and re coated.

    So, it's important to note, that "screen and recoat" is a different process, then "sanding and refinishing." Screening won't take out deep scratches or flatten a floor. That's what sanding does; flattens, removes color stain if present, for a new stain color and finish coats.
  11. Pvfloor

    Pvfloor Member

    Every floor person I have ever spoken to in Albuquerque since 2001 when I built this house. The wood floor guy we used multiple times on previous houses, floor sales people in big box stores and smaller specialty floor stores, web searches, etc. Until a $9 per sq ft floor, plus install costs, is purchased there is no engineered floor. A good wood floor guy will never have to sand a floor if it is taken care of. .only screen and recoat.
  12. Dan Schultz

    Dan Schultz Certified Wood Floor Inspector Charter Member

    By screening and recoating a factory finished floor, you void the finish warranty that you pay dearly for in the first place. Why not go with an unfinished engineered floor and have it stained and finished the way you want it? You also wouldn't have the beveled edge dirt trap.
  13. Pvfloor

    Pvfloor Member

    The warranties these stores offer are worthless, IMHO. I have seen the floors scratched terribly in the 1st 6 months to 1 year at friend's houses and the warranty does not cover wear & tear.

    Now, an unfinished engineered wood floor would be great but nobody in Albuquerque has ever said they sell one. But, I just looked into that and my problem is solved. That is what I will buy. ..unfinished engineered wood, have it professionally installed, lightly sanded and sealed, and I can then have it screened and recoated as needed. I don't believe I ever searched for unfinished engineered floor. Dan Schultz, you are the great one! Thanks .
  14. Mike Antonetti

    Mike Antonetti I Support TFP Senior Member

    Confused! So your tearing out the new floor you just installed to put down unfinished engineered. Then have it professionally finished in place? Ok, keep us posted!
  15. kwfloors

    kwfloors Fuzz on the brain Charter Member I Support TFP Senior Member

    Kahrs used to have one that you could oil after it was installed.
  16. Pvfloor

    Pvfloor Member

    No, we are not removing the new Lumber Liquidators floor we just had installed. I started this thread solely to determine if I could have a polyurethane layer put on top of the new floor for added protection, as I am fully aware of the quality floor, and the level of warranty protection and hassle for warranty claims, that I bought. The answer was no, I cannot add polyurethane to this floor. Voiding the warranty was not the issue as I don't believe in the warranty. It was having to rough up the surface for adhesive purposes that made the decision for me.

    The thread then evolved and I learned unfinished engineered floors exist. So, my next house will have radiant in-floor heat with an external thermostat and professionally installed unfinished engineered wood flooring.

    Tile is the #1 flooring choice in this area, followed by carpet, IMHO. Not many people use wood flooring in this area so there are not that many wood floor knowledgeable people in this area.

    Thanks to all for the input. You were great.
  17. Mike Antonetti

    Mike Antonetti I Support TFP Senior Member

    Do you understand that "external thermostat" thing? Not me, seems obvious.

    So radiant is efficient, I get that, but humidity control is extremely important above the floor as well. Maybe that works well, I'm not in the cold environment, I would assume humidity is easier to control with this type of heating system versus wood fireplace.

    So your going to go with "in slab" radiant heat. Mostly here in Florida it's "tile warming" purposes in bathrooms for ceramic.
  18. Pvfloor

    Pvfloor Member

    Yes, we fell in love with in-floor radiant heat over the past 14 years. Even and quick heat, no blowing allergens & dust like a central heat duct system, etc. Baseboard heat is ok but in-floor is more even as it is all over, and furniture can be placed against the wall.

    The external thermostat, which I currently do not have in my heat system and just recently learned about, help regulate the water temp in the floor. This is the one problem we have had is the living and dining rooms get too hot with the winter sun coming in the 21 feet of sliding glass door, when the floor is at a constant temp. The external thermostat supposedly solves that issue by adjusting the water temp based on the outside temp, on combination with the interior thermostat and current inside temp.

    Again, thanks for all the info.
  19. Mike Antonetti

    Mike Antonetti I Support TFP Senior Member

    What I'm leaning toward are the split units like the Mitsubishi where the units can be installed in each room with its thermostat. I've been looking where their installed, one builder seems to use them exclusively.

    But my point is that maybe the unit could be set up for different room temperatures, I think one temperature for entire house is not detailed enough. At night I want my room cold, not the rest of house.

    I've seen advertisements of the radiant heat under driveways while yards were piled up in snow. That's just too cool.
  20. Dan Schultz

    Dan Schultz Certified Wood Floor Inspector Charter Member

    The idea behind an external thermostat is so the radiant heating system can begin to slowly warm when the exterior temperature begins to fall, yet before the inside temperature is cold. Keeps the system from playing catch-up, which exposes the floor to unnecessary extreme heat.

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